After initially dismissing the strategic partnership between the US, Japan, India and Australia – known as the Quad – analysts say Beijing is growing more cautious about the informal, implicitly anti-China alliance.During a nationally televised press conference in March 2018, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi referred to the grouping as nothing more than “sea foam on the Pacific and Indian oceans” that would eventually dissipate. At the time, all the signs suggested he was correct.
China and India had just agreed to back away from their months-long military stand-off in the Himalayas, while a trade war with the US seemed to be merely rhetorical. And diplomats in Beijing and Tokyo were busily preparing for an ice-breaking trip to Japan by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for the 40th anniversary celebrations of the two countries’ peace and friendship treaty, after a decade of confrontation.
Two years later, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – to give the Quad its full title – is steadily advancing cooperation between the four countries, with renewed interest in the grouping from India and Australia, which are each experiencing friction in their relations with China.